IER has recently been awarded funding under the ESRC Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF): ‘Inequalities and skills acquisition in young people: Identification of factors affecting successful outcomes in the DDU-GKY Indian skills programme for unemployed young people’.
In spite of efforts in recent decades in India to move to a more market-led, neo-liberal approach to promote employment, there are significant problems in the skills system: this has meant that India will not benefit from having a large population of working-age people if more is not done to increase skills development, particularly amongst young people.
From 2003, the Indian government began to introduce a series of initiatives and in 2005 skills development was made a key national policy. However, the results of this have been very mixed. The resulting skills imbalance in the labour market, including a surplus in some skills and shortages in others, is now a critical policy issue.
This project assesses a current intervention to use public-private partnership to address skills gaps and social inclusion. The aim of these partnerships has been to harness the potential of the entrepreneurs and private training organisations to meet the government’s now-pressing target of training 500 million people by 2022, but also to direct it towards addressing skills gaps and bringing opportunities to previously excluded groups. There is evidence that these initiatives have not benefited excluded groups to the same extent to which they have benefited more advantaged groups, leading to a deepening of inequalities, particularly for women, those from lower caste groups and those living in rural areas.
India’s ongoing policy of migration-for-development promotes internal and international migration as a mechanism for economic growth and is an important feature of the training programme we will review (below). However, if young people do not develop sufficient levels of self-confidence and self-efficacy to leave behind the familiar, they will be unlikely to migrate, causing significant issues for such policies.
The DDU-GKY is one of the biggest government-sponsored skills training programmes in India and focusses on providing training for rural young people aged between 15 and 35 from poor families. The programme has a clear mission to engage the most excluded groups, e.g. programme participants should include Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (50%), minorities (15%), women (33%) and persons with disabilities (3%).
Our aim is not to evaluate the overall DDU-GKY programme but to identify factors which will support its success, while simultaneously developing a broader definition of ‘success’, incorporating measures of social inclusion and employability or soft skills gain and the personal efficacy to employ these skills in the workplace and in wider society. The research also aims to establish the reasons why some groups who are eligible for training are particularly unlikely to register to take part and to compare skills gain amongst these groups with those who have participated in training.
A key aim of the proposed research is to develop the capacity of the project delivery organisations and support agencies to evaluate the programme activities during the life of the project and to feedback the findings of such evaluation to promote continuous improvement of the programme and its engagement with its target groups.
The project will employ a longitudinal mixed-methods approach, combining primarily quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews with training participants during the training programme and a comparator group of eligible young people who have not taken part in training. Additional interviews will be undertaken with a) employers of young people from the programme soon after they have employed the young person and at 9-12 months later, and b) with the training providers to assess the functioning of the programme and any changes that have occurred to its delivery or rationale.
The project will focus on training delivery in two states: Bihar and Jharkhand, which are amongst India’s poorest states and those states with the greatest bulge in the youth population size, making them key states in the realisation of India’s demographic dividend.